Five Run Third Inning and Four Errors Doom Tobs’ season
Hampton, VA—The Wilson Tobs found success in the postseason thanks to great pitching, timely hitting and good defense. They did none of those things tonight in their Game Three loss to the Peninsula Pilots, ending their season with the 14-1 defeat.
For the second night in a row, the Tobs went down in order in the top of the first inning, and for the fourth time in a Tobs’ postseason game, the home team cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the frame.
Julio Valdez started the game for the Tobs and got the first batter on lineout to center, but Will Shepherd grounded a ball to the backhand of Jake Armstrong at third and he was unable to make the play. Alex Close found the hole on the left side of the infield to put runners at first and second and it looked like Valdez would get out of the inning with a double play ball to third, but Armstrong’s throw to second was a bit high and Zach Callahan had it bounce in and out of his glove and was unable to get to it quickly enough as Shepherd scored from second for the Pilots’ 1-0 lead.
Collins Cuthrell immediately erased the one run deficit with one swing of the bat in the second inning. Shawn Clowers, the starting pitcher for the Peninsula Pilots, fell behind Cuthrell 1-0 and crushed the next pitch, sending it over the left-center field wall and tying the game at 1-1. The home run for Cuthrell was his second of the postseason and his third total against the Pilots.
The lead would not last though as the Pilots scored one in the bottom of the second. Andres Nelo reached on an infield single and Valdez walked Kyle Johnson before settling down and getting Brooks and Shepherd on consecutive popouts. But Tobs killer Alex Close singled up the middle to drive the run home and propel the Pilots ahead 2-1.
While the Tobs stranded two more runners in the third inning (they stranded two runners in the second, third and fourth innings), the Pilots put the game away in the bottom of the frame.
Kyle Kempf hit a routine groundball to third to begin the inning, but Armstrong’s throw was low and Collins Cuthrell at first could not pick the ball out of the dirt, allowing the runner to reach. Nick Lustrino laid a bunt down the third baseline, but Valdez rushed picking the ball up and never got a hand on it, allowing the first two batters to reach in the inning via errors. Stephens squared around to bunt next, but was instead hit by a pitch from Valdez, loading the bases with nobody out.
PJ Higgins hit a ball towards the hole at short, but Matt Rembielak went into the dive, stopping the ball and firing towards second, Callahan tried to make the turn to first, but the relay was late, allowing a run to score. Valdez fired a wild pitch on his first offering to Nelo to put the Pilots up 3-1 and a wild pitch on a 3-1 count put runners on the corners with one out and ended his night. Justin Hay, head coach of the Tobs, went to the bullpen and called for T.J. Viracola.
The first batter he faced, Kyle Johnson, grounded a ball to short. Rembielak fielded the ball and tried to cut the runner down at home, but since he had to make the play on the run, the throw sailed wide of the plate and Matt Rubino was unable to apply the tag, giving the Pilots a three run advantage. With runners at first and second Brooks sent a ball down the right field line, driving in both runners, although he was thrown out trying to stretch the double into a triple on a perfect relay from Ben Schmucker to Zach Callahan and Jake Armstrong, but the damage was done and the Tobs were down 7-1 after three innings.
The Pilots tacked on another in the fourth inning with timely hitting. Lustrino doubled to deep right-center field with one out and was still there with two outs, but Higgins’ single to right-center gave the Pilots yet another run.
Hay wanted to keep the game close and used normal starter Christian Slazinik to record the final out of the inning and he did just that, striking out Nelo. Slazinik retired the next six batters he faced before running into trouble in the seventh inning, allowing four runs and giving way to Daniel Batts who allowed two runs in the frame as the Pilots sent 12 men to the plate in the inning, scoring six runs.
Julio Valdez was saddled with the loss while going 2.1 innings pitched, allowing six runs, just one earned, on four hits and three walks and striking out one. Shawn Clowers improves his postseason record to 1-1, pitching five innings and giving up two hits, just the one run while walking four and striking out three.
The Tobs season comes to an end with an overall record of 30-29 and 14-14 on the road under first year head coach Justin Hay. The Tobs finished at 16-15 at historic Fleming Stadium and were the most consistent team in the CPL; the Tobs had just one losing streak of three games during the season, and never lost more than three games in a row.
The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 18th season in 2014, the CPL features 14 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. The CPL has had over 1,200 alumni drafted and 72 of those – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut; while another notable alum - Russell Wilson - won Super Bowl XLVIII. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at